Having Big-time Family Fun on a Small-time Budget


This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Tropicana.

You could win a $50 Visa giftcard, keep reading to find out how to enter!


My kids are only 6 and 9 years old, and already the flight from our nest has begun. It seems like every week I'm fielding invitations from their friends to spend some time at their house for playdates, or sleepovers, shopping trips and excursions to museums and beaches. I'm happy that they're well-liked and well-behaved enough to get all these invitations, and many times I'm happy to send them off with $20 in their pockets and a promise to reciprocate -- but there are times when I have to tell their friends, "Sorry but we're planning to have a family outing that day". I can't stop my children from growing up, experiencing new things and giving them their independence, but I can and do make sure they have a happy, solid family to return to.

I firmly believe that The Family That Plays Together, Stays Together, so I like to schedule family outings two or three times a month. I'm always on the lookout for fun, memorable experiences we can enjoy together, as a family. We are lucky to live in an area that has such a wide variety of things to do, all within a short drive of each other, many of which are extremely kid-friendly -- but they can also be expensive. Going to amusement parks or state fairs or shows can cost over hundreds for the whole family! We just don't have that kind of budget, so I try to look for free or low-cost events. Here are five things I always do to stretch our family entertainment budget:

1) Look for free events
There are free family events in practically every city in the US -- the key is knowing where and how to find them. Always check out your local library or civic center; just a few examples of fun, free family activities your city might offer are children's parades, 4th of July parades, or puppet shows. Civic organizations also sponsor international cultural days (like the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival, Brazilian Samba or Cinco de Mayo celebrations) and other events. Check out your local paper or entertainment magazine, or go online to find out what's happening in your area. Trust me -- I've been writing about local kid-friendly attractions and events for two years, and there hasn't been a weekend where I haven't found at least one fun, free, family-friendly event.

2) Check out your local parents club
I joined our local mother's club to meet new parents, find playgroups our kids could join -- and to enjoy their awesome parties! For just a $40 annual fee, members get all kinds of amazing perks: Our mothers club holds amazing Halloween parties, Valentine's parties, Easter parties and winter holiday parties with goody bags, kids entertainers, pizza and crafts, all for free! We always look forward to our Twins Club's annual Ice Cream Party -- we gather at a local park for pizza, soda and make-your-own ice cream sundaes, complete with candy toppings, waffle cups and cones and four kinds of ice cream! They also hold special classes at science museums and outings at jumpy house places or zoos for smaller groups, again for free -- you just need to make sure you sign up before space runs out. There's probably a local parents club near you that offers similar, low-cost or free activities the whole family can enjoy.


Every October we visit a pumpkin patch in Half Moon Bay. Because we go with our twins club, we save 50% off admission and unlimited rides bracelet. And because it's a package deal, the kids even get a cookie and a small pumpkin to take home.


3) Buy museum family memberships.
If you have a favorite museum or zoo that you find yourself returning to time and again, consider purchasing a family membership. In many cases, you can recoup the cost of your membership in as little as one or two visits. Many of these memberships also offer discounts on other museums, food purchased in their cafeterias and on souvenirs at their gift shops (actually, another way to save is to warn your kids beforehand that you won't be splashing out for souvenirs!). To stretch out the number of visits we can enjoy, I usually buy membership in July -- that way, it runs until July of the following year, and we get two summers worth of visits to the museum!

A couple of years ago we splurged on a family membership to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We recovered the cost in just two visits, and we visited the aquarium so many times that we didn't even feel the urge to go back for quite a while. I think it's time to splurge on that family membership again.....


4) Take advantage of Free Admission Days.
Many museums hold free or $1 admission days once a month. Yes, they tend to be more crowded than on other days, but you can work around that by arriving at the museum exactly when it opens. We've discovered quite a few family favorites that way -- the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose and Coyote Point Museum, for instance. The kids adore these places!


5) Look for coupons and discounts.
Why pay full price for admission to a museum or event if you can get a couple of bucks off just by clipping a coupon? When you multiply that by five, it adds up! You can check out the coupon section of your local newspaper or entertainment magazine, ask your local parents group or auto club if they offer any discounts -- or better yet, join Tropicana's Juicy Rewards program. The program offers discounts at over 20,000 establishments nationwide. You can save on food, drink, equipment, lodging, admissions and family entertainment just by buying Tropicana products, collecting the Juicy Rewards points on the cartons and redeeming them for discounts. Check out my first Juicy Rewards post for details on how the program works, and check out my second Juicy Rewards post to see some of the fun ways you can save with the Juicy Rewards program. It's a great way to stretch out your family entertainment budget!





Register with and Tropicana Juicy Rewards and get one additional Juicy Rewards Point for free!
To get you started, BlogHer and Tropicana have teamed up to offer new Juicy Rewards members a bonus Juicy Rewards point! How great is that: you get one step closer to redeeming a Juicy Reward, at no cost to you.

To get your bonus point:
1. Go to http://www.tropicana.com/
2. Set-up your Tropicana Juicy Rewards account (just take a minute!)
3. Visit the "Enter Codes" page within the site and get started with BLOGG-HER11 *

*Note* This one-time use code is valid for new accounts ONLY. Must be entered within 6 hours of creating your account.


Win It!
One lucky Bonggamom Finds reader will win a $50 Visa gift card courtesy of BlogHer. To enter, visit the Tropicana Juicy Rewards page, then come back here and share a tip on how to have big family fun on a small budget.

Extra Entries
For extra entries, you can do any or all of the following, (you can only do each extra entry once; please leave a separate comment for each extra entry):

1) Write this on the Bonggamom Finds Facebook Fan Page (leave a comment on this post with your FB id):

I joined the $50 Visa giveaway on Bonggamom Finds!

2) Write this on the Tropicana OJ Facebook Fan Page (leave a comment on this post with your FB id):

I went to Bonggamom's latest Juicy Rewards post and entered to win a $50 Visa giftcard! Anyone can enter at http://ow.ly/1Gl2Z, ends 5/16.


3) Tweet this (leave a comment on this post with a link to your tweet):

Share your money-saving tip on family fun w/ @bonggafinds & enter to Win a $50 Visa giftcard fr @blogherdeals ! http://ow.ly/1Gl2Z #giveaway

Maximum of 4 entries per person. This giveaway ends at midnight PST on May 16, 2010; I will draw a winner at random on May17 and post the winner's name in the comments section after the winner confirms acceptance. Click here for complete giveaway rules.

For more information, check out the Juicy Rewards official site. And don't forget to visit the rest of the BlogHer Juicy Insiders' posts (links are on the BlogHer.com special offers page )-- you'll have 7 more chances to win!




Disclosure: I am being compensated for my participation in the BlogHer Juicy Insiders program. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

69 comments, leave yours here:

Cara! on May 3, 2010 at 10:12 AM said...

I always like to scope out our local newspapers and parents magazines for free events!

GoldenOrchard on May 3, 2010 at 10:32 AM said...

From the Juicy Rewards site for my area a lot of the local bowling alleys offer 2 free complimentary games for families and discounted games if they purchase more games

goldengoddiss09(at)gmail(dot)com

Charity Donovan on May 3, 2010 at 11:00 AM said...

I always pack our lunches rather than buying them when we go on outings.

charityd AT centurytel DOT net

GoldenOrchard on May 3, 2010 at 11:13 AM said...

Fan Tropicana on FB C.J. Jennings and wrote on their FB wall http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=lf#!/Tropicana?v=wall&story_fbid=386220901234&ref=mf

goldengoddiss09(at)gmail(dot)com

GoldenOrchard on May 3, 2010 at 11:21 AM said...

follow you on twitter @wildorchids09 and tweeted http://twitter.com/WildOrchids09/status/13318789868

goldengoddiss09(at)gmail(dot)com

Toystory on May 3, 2010 at 11:22 AM said...

Just one point and my family can have a movie night with PIZZA -- Nice!!
1prizewinner(at)gmail(dot)com

Anna on May 3, 2010 at 3:42 PM said...

using Juicy Rewards is a great way to save money :)
ann.altima at gmail dot com

Tree on May 3, 2010 at 5:43 PM said...

We have a rather large family with 10 of us in the home, and yes...outings can get very expensive for that many. So, we also do alot of fun things that are free or low-cost to us.

Our local zoo is wonderful and they don't ask for an admission, but you can give a donation of $5 or so if you'd like. Parks and barbeques are great too...the kids burn off energy and it costs practically nothing for a day of fun.

tatertot374 on May 3, 2010 at 7:23 PM said...

I am signed up and I love the free ideas. We also love to go to the park and recreation facilities. They always have activities for the kids to do mostly free

tatertot374 on May 3, 2010 at 7:25 PM said...

tweet
http://twitter.com/tatertot374/status/13341092016
Thank you
tatertot374@sbcglobal.net

bayctygrl on May 3, 2010 at 7:33 PM said...

I visited the site.

We like to go on bike rides to get an ice-cream cone and play some miniature golf

hippopurplemonkey at yahoo dot com

MOMFOREVERANDEVER on May 3, 2010 at 7:34 PM said...

there are many local events that are free- thru the city, thru churches, thru the state parks, etc

bayctygrl on May 3, 2010 at 7:35 PM said...

Wrote on your FB Wall Jennifer B

hippopurplemonkey at yahoo dot com

one6ylady on May 3, 2010 at 7:55 PM said...

We go to events like the Washington DC Cherry Festival or the Middletown Peach Festival which are all free.

one6ylady(at)aol(cot)com

one6ylady on May 3, 2010 at 8:19 PM said...

Left the post on Bonggamom Finds facebook page as Donna Mehalko Holmberg

one6ylady on May 3, 2010 at 8:19 PM said...

Left the required post on Tropican OJ Facebook page as Donna Mehalko Holmberg

one6ylady on May 3, 2010 at 8:21 PM said...

Tweeted here http://twitter.com/one6ylady/status/13343837187

Lindsey @ I Run in Heels on May 5, 2010 at 12:26 AM said...

I like to get discount tickets from websites like Goldstar and Groupon to afford fun activities I couldn't otherwise, especially musicals!

lindsey(dot)marcus(at)gmail(dot)com

Melinda on May 6, 2010 at 8:02 AM said...

the BOGO coupons really help save money!

Joy said...

GO CAMPING mjharvey26@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

discounted tickets are great

bluegirl1423 at gmail dot com

Jen G. said...

We enjoy eating out so the food discounts are great! The Oasis [a reward that's offered through Tropicana] is great because you can eat AND have entertainment at the same time. You can sit on the deck and listen to live music and enjoy the view of the lake. A great family time.

jennifer.gilmore @ gcmweb.org

butlerjesica@yahoo.com said...

We always take a picnic lunch with us on family outings and that cuts out a huge expense - also using coupons like those in the Juicy Rewards program cut costs in half!

jillyrh on May 6, 2010 at 11:21 PM said...

We have big family fun on a small budget by going camping and/or attending free events in our town.

jillyrh on May 6, 2010 at 11:22 PM said...

Wrote on Facebook (Jill BH)

jillyrh on May 6, 2010 at 11:23 PM said...

Wrote on Tropicana OJ's Facebook fan page (Jill BH)

jillyrh on May 6, 2010 at 11:24 PM said...

Tweet

http://twitter.com/jillyrh/status/13533435535

mandala on May 6, 2010 at 11:42 PM said...

We attend cultural events in our town which are often free or charge a minimal entrance fee. We get to appreciate other people's cultures, entertained by the shows and enjoy the great food.

mandalarctic(at)gmail(dot)com

Betty N on May 7, 2010 at 6:27 PM said...

Mote Marine Aquarium is a fav local attraction of our grandkids. Tropicana rewards has a complimentary admission with one full price admission..this will be great for summer and my husband drinks Tropicana juice every day so no problem in racking up those reward points

Betty N on May 7, 2010 at 6:34 PM said...

I am a fan of Bonggafinds on facebook and I wrote on their wall
I joined the $50 Visa giveaway on Bonggamom Finds!

Betty N on May 7, 2010 at 6:38 PM said...

tweet
http://twitter.com/Grandma3710/status/13581786679

Betty N on May 7, 2010 at 6:44 PM said...

I wrote on the Tropicana wall
I went to Bonggamom's latest Juicy Rewards post and entered to win a $50 Visa giftcard! Anyone can enter at http://ow.ly/1Gl2Z, ends 5/16.

Angela on May 8, 2010 at 2:02 PM said...

I check places websites for family events going on each month. They often offer discounts and freebies! Packing snacks in my bag saves us a lot of money too!
veniceangel@hotmail.com

Mami2jcn on May 8, 2010 at 5:17 PM said...

Coupons and giveaways help us have fun on a small budget.

mami2jcn at gmail dot com

Princess Golden Hair on May 9, 2010 at 4:33 PM said...

We have fun on a small budget by packing our own lunches when we head out to our destination.

We try to find free and inexpensive events to attend.

teechbiz at gmail dot com

Princess Golden Hair on May 9, 2010 at 4:36 PM said...

Here is my tweet link:

http://twitter.com/thriftymaven/status/13694165337

teechbiz at gmail dot com

Princess Golden Hair on May 9, 2010 at 4:42 PM said...

I posted on Facebook and here is the link:

http://www.facebook.com/Tropicana?v=app_4949752878#!/posted.php?id=73580501234&share_id=120009108021382&comments=1#s120009108021382

nape on May 10, 2010 at 6:27 PM said...

When we aren't watching movies, we're H.O.S.: HOOKED ON SCRABBLE. We've nearly worn out the old gameboard, but it's always entertaining for us. Fun without spending money is MEGA-fun for me.

Thanks for a great giveaway!

nape on May 10, 2010 at 6:28 PM said...

Tweeted you!
http://twitter.com/Ida_Sessions/status/13760592608

Anne J on May 11, 2010 at 12:48 PM said...

In our area there are free local festivals almost every weekend. So we check them out and bring our own food.

ajolly1456 at gmail dot com

Anne J on May 11, 2010 at 12:49 PM said...

I am a facebook fan (Anne Jolly) and wrote on your wall
ajolly1456 at gmail dot com

Anne J on May 11, 2010 at 12:50 PM said...

I tweeted
http://twitter.com/lunaj1456/status/13806047188

Emily N. on May 11, 2010 at 6:11 PM said...

Rent a movie at Redbox for $1 and watch it together on a big screen tv with homemade popcorn instead of going to the movie theater.

email in profile

Melody on May 11, 2010 at 6:57 PM said...

My kids love to go to yard sales with me. They earn their own money and they find all sorts of affordable treasures to bring home.

coriwestphal on May 12, 2010 at 1:09 PM said...

A local park is a great way to have a good time for free! If you can find one on a lake or river, even better!

coriwestphal on May 12, 2010 at 1:10 PM said...

I like you on FB: Cori Eckstrom Westphal and wrote on your wall.

coriwestphal on May 12, 2010 at 1:16 PM said...

I like Tropicana on FB: Cori Eckstrom Westphal and wrote on their wall.

coriwestphal on May 12, 2010 at 1:16 PM said...

Tweet: http://twitter.com/coriwestphal/statuses/13869706747

Nita on May 13, 2010 at 7:39 AM said...

using coupons and movie early shows

Sarah on May 13, 2010 at 6:34 PM said...

Outdoor activities are always a great cheaper and healthier family time. We like to go for hikes, play at the park, or just do things outside at our house.

psmomreviews@gmail.com

Sarah on May 13, 2010 at 6:34 PM said...

I tweeted- http://twitter.com/psmomreviews/status/13947602861.

Eve on May 13, 2010 at 11:49 PM said...

We go to free and discounted events and use coupons when we have to. Sometimes they have the free child ticket when you buy an adult ticket deal

shopgurl101 at gmail dot com

Eve on May 13, 2010 at 11:50 PM said...

I wrote on you facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/BonggamomFinds#!/BonggamomFinds?v=wall&story_fbid=396822938150&ref=mf

shopgurl101 at gmail dot com

Eve on May 13, 2010 at 11:52 PM said...

I posted on tropicana's facebook page

(Evelyn D)

http://www.facebook.com/Tropicana?v=wall#!/posted.php?id=73580501234&share_id=121382564550461&comments=1#s121382564550461

shopgurl101 at gmail dot com

Eve on May 13, 2010 at 11:52 PM said...

tweet http://twitter.com/shopgurl/status/13961443593

shopgurl101 at gmail dot com

angie lilly on May 14, 2010 at 4:51 AM said...

My family loves to go to local free events. We are lucky enough to live in a great little city where they have all sorts of these events throughout the year. One example is Halloween. They always have a city gathering at a local park and provide free pumpkins for carving, hay rides, and food. Its tons of fun and absolutely free!
Angie
one 4 earth at aol dot com

angie lilly on May 14, 2010 at 4:52 AM said...

I left a comment on your FB page as Tofu Fairy.
Angie
one 4 earth at aol dot com

angie lilly on May 14, 2010 at 4:52 AM said...

I left a comment on their FB page as Tofu Fairy.
Angie
one 4 earth at aol dot com

angie lilly on May 14, 2010 at 4:53 AM said...

I tweeted this giveaway here: http://twitter.com/FotoMacro/status/13971659268
Angie
one 4 earth at aol dot com

Scott on May 14, 2010 at 5:15 AM said...

I think the best way to do big things cheaply is to use coupons and discounts whenever possible or even buy memberships to favorite places, as they will pay for themselves for sure. I also think that thinking outside the proverbial box is a big thing. Not all fun things cost a lot of money. Many things can be free!
Scott
nynekats at aol dot com

Scott on May 14, 2010 at 5:15 AM said...

your facebook fan Heath Cole and left comment
Scott
nynekats at aol dot com

Scott on May 14, 2010 at 5:15 AM said...

their facebook fan Heath Cole and left comment
Scott
nynekats at aol dot com

Scott on May 14, 2010 at 5:16 AM said...

tweeted http://twitter.com/RePurrPussed/status/13972629611
Scott
nynekats at aol dot com

Amanda on May 14, 2010 at 11:20 AM said...

Our local mall has family night the last Friday of every month. From 5-8 you can get into the Children's museum for free, ride the carousel free, and get a free kids meal at the food court with every adult meal. We make sure and ride the carousel many times so that they can get it out of their system for the month!!

Elizabeth on May 15, 2010 at 5:11 PM said...

We do a boardgame night every week! There's so many good games out there, not just the ones you find on shelves at Target or Walmart. We just tried Hey! That's my fish! (about penguins) after having a fish dinner as a family. Way fun! Go to boardgamegeek.com and it lists all kinds to choose from and where to find them. Such great quality time and cheap to boot!

Elizabeth on May 15, 2010 at 5:20 PM said...

I posted to your facebook page!

Bonggamom on May 17, 2010 at 10:17 AM said...

This giveaway has ended. Thanks to everyone for entering, and stay tuned for the announcement of the winner's name!

Bonggamom on May 19, 2010 at 11:06 AM said...

.. and the winner is: #12, momforeverandever! Congratulations!

John on June 22, 2010 at 10:31 PM said...

I would like to share a tip I just found about a discount gift card exchange called abcgiftcards.com . You can buy sell and trade gift cards at discounted prices from all National retailers.

Search This Blog

Bongga Posts

Bongga Tweets

    Savvy Posts

    Blog Archive

    Numbers & Stats

    Disclaimer

    The opinions expressed on the Bonggamom Finds blog are the personal views of the author; any reviews or recommendations are not intended to constitute medical advice or treatment in any form. In addition, neither the Bonggamom Finds blog nor its author are liable, and cannot be held liable, for any dissatisfaction you may have with the product, sponsor or any injuries that may be caused by use of that product.

    Posts on this blog routinely link out to other sites; I am not responsible and cannot be held liable for anything on those sites.

    I occasionally receive samples of the products I review on this blog. I also occasionally accept monetary compensation for posts on this site. If and when I receive either product samples or compensation for writing a review post, this will be clearly stated in the body of the review post.

     

    Bonggamom Finds Copyright © 2009 Cosmetic Girl Designed by Ipietoon | In Collaboration with FIFA
    Girl Illustration Copyrighted to Dapino Colada